A little less me, please…

Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and captured the royal city. And Joab sent messengers to David and said, “I have fought against Rabbah, I have even captured the city of waters. Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and camp against the city and capture it, lest I capture the city myself and it be named after me.”  —2 Samuel 12:26-28

WHAT??!! Did you read that?! Joab had the city dead to rights, he fought against it—David wasn’t even there—and he GAVE UP the city for his master, the king.

Here’s a question the LORD gave to me after I read this this morning: Are you living your life like Joab? Translation: Are you living your life so that others may be placed in front of you? Are you working and preaching and living so that others may see more of the LORD? Or are you setting your sights on things you may get? I know…OUCH!!!

To be honest, we don’t live in that society. It’s all about me and I. “Work hard so you can have,” “Go make a name for yourself,” “You deserve this.”

I wonder what it would be like if we truly stopped and took the time to TRULY evaluate why we do what we do. How much of what we do, say, and give is based on what WE NEED?

You see, God is right!! If we each as believers in Christ lived like Joab, what a different world it would be. We would go out, do what God called us to do and then passed the honor of recognition to someone else who deserves it…maybe CHRIST?!

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Here’s a Picture for you…

            Psalm 18. I admit, when looked at how long it was at first, I sighed thinking it may be a little too long for my tastes this morning. But then I sat, prayed and asked God to bless our time together. And….He did. Oh how He did.

            Psalm 18 begins with a statement from David, the Psalmist, about how strong God is. He uses words like rock, fortress, shield, and horn. Each display a part, a strength of the LORD. Then David shared how he called upon the LORD to help him because his enemy was against him. Then begins a wondrous description of the LORD’s fierce anger in overcoming David’s enemies. It was there, in verse 19 that it hit me. GOD IS FOR YOU GERALD, NOT AGAINST YOU. The Holy Spirit revealed softly to my heart that God rewarded me for my righteousness (right living). We see, however, that righteousness (right living) can only come from obeying the Word of the LORD (see v. 32).

Then the LORD in His kindness showed me a wondrous Truth in v. 23. I’ve always read these verses and thought, “Whatever. No one can be like this. No one can be blameless and keep themselves from iniquity ALL THE TIME.” And again, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that David isn’t saying he’s perfect…JUST DILIGENT!

Then I rejoiced and lo and behold that is exactly what David did in this Psalm (vv. 30-32). When trouble comes in life, we sometimes bow our heads and, wait for it, sigh! We think, this is too much for me. I don’t have time for this. What is the point of this hardship. But then you see that God is kind and merciful and He wants to help you because, after all, God is for you, not against you. The battles you face have purpose, and that is exactly what David showed (vv. 33-42).

And as if this were not enough, the end of Psalm 18 is the culmination of the awesome nature of the LORD. In v. 43 David gives a description of what it’s like to rule over people after he has returned from fleeing from the hand of Saul; but oh, there is much more to see here!

This is a picture of what it’s like to rule and reign in the Kingdom of Heaven with Christ when He comes!! And how can you rule and reign with Christ…

Remember you have an enemy who is coming against you, but God is greater than he is.

Remember Who your strength is and recognize Him as such.

Live a righteous (right living) life by living according to the Word of God.

Keep the ways of the LORD.

Be diligent to remain blameless.

Allow the trials and tribulations of life to be used for good, because God is for you, not against you.

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I’m Not Arrogant!!!

Love is not arrogant…

Yesterday we looked at the fact that love does not brag. Arrogance, as we saw yesterday is rather closely related to bragging (boasting). But there are some differences. So, what is the difference between bragging (boasting) and arrogance?

Bragging says, “Look at me! Look at me!”

Arrogance says, “This is me. This is me.”

Now, if we’re not careful here we can begin to name of some folks we think fall into these categories. But that’s not for us to focus on. We are to focus on whether or not we are acting this way. A great lesson to learn is when you see someone else making a mistake, that, instead of judging them, you learn from their misfortune and you apply it to your life.

Understand something, many times we don’t even truly know we are bragging or being arrogant in our beliefs, our lives, and our relationships.

As the song says, “it’s a slow fade.”

We can consume ourselves so much with doing work for God that we end up doing work that is not of God. Sometimes, many times, God allows those things to play out and then we think, “Wow, I must be doing pretty well in the sight of God, He’s blessing me.”

But that is when Love steps in and shows you that anything that you come up with is like a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6).

And here is a wonderful truth about Love (God), His rebuke, many times, is so quiet and so simple that it burrows deep into our hearts and touches the one and only place it needs to.

Just like He just did…

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Maybe the Mirror Does Lie

Love does not brag…

Pride. It is the acid to our hearts. When someone brags (boasts) about something there is an air of pride around them that others seem to find deplorable.

Akin to pride is haughtiness. That’s a word that describes someone who is conceited, arrogant (which we will look at tomorrow Lord willing), and overconfident.

Now, think about Christ for just a moment. When, in all of Scripture did you find Him to be prideful, haughty, conceited, arrogant, or overconfident? Never. Ever. Why? Because He IS Love.

True love is humble, sacrificial and places the other person’s needs before its own. A humbled heart actually, if it is going to boast or brag, will do so to or for someone else.

I could spend hours boasting about my wife and how incredibly wonderful, kind, caring, gracious, and patient she is.

But when I turn the table to myself, I only see mistakes, errors, hang-ups, and failures.

You see, we see ourselves as wounded, God sees us as healed.

Where we see our mistakes, God sees a opportunities to improve us to make us look more like His Son.

Pride, haughtiness, conceit, and overconfidence are all aimed toward one person…me.

The Bible is clear, if we are going to boast of anything it should be about God (2 Corinthians 10:17). And that is exactly what I do when I boast about my lovely wife. I boast about the God who changed her heart and is making her new.

Maybe…just maybe…there is a lesson to be learned here. Maybe we should spend our time and energy boasting about what God has done for others…

Hmmmm….just a thought.

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If God is Jealous, Why Can’t I Be?

Love is not jealous…

Unfortunately, those two words go together more often than not. There are many times when people that are actively in relationships find themselves feeling the sting of jealousy. Jealousy has its roots in a dark place. It stems from a self-centered, self-absorbed mind that wants things a certain way. When we normally think of jealousy and love we think of a cheating spouse, a boyfriend who “can’t look away,” or even a friend who doesn’t seem to want to talk anymore.

Jealousy has its tentacles in the unknown. What if…he does, she does, he doesn’t, or she doesn’t? Because we do not know our minds play tricks on us.

Closely related to jealousy is suspicion. This is also a tool that can be misused. There are many times when intuition and godly counsel show a situation to be true, but there are some times when suspicion, like jealousy, run wild.

There is one thing we know for sure, jealousy (humanly speaking) does no one any good…ever.

BUT WAIT! God says He’s jealous (Exodus 20:5)! That is true. And the proper meaning to this is that God is zealous that worship alone be given to Him, for He alone deserves worship. His jealousy is a holy jealousy rooted in His nature. Our jealousy is an evil emotion which is rooted in our sin nature. Very different…very different indeed.

So how do we overcome human jealousy? Trust God.

If the person you are with has an affair…

If the boy won’t keep his attention on you…

If that friend is wandering off to a place you don’t want to go and you don’t think they should either…

Trust God.

When we become entangled in the arms of jealousy it is very hard to escape. Rather, dive yourself into the arms of Jesus…His arms are perfect.

He is the ONLY one you can truly trust to never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8).

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Why don’t you go ahead…

 

Love is kind…

Kindness. A seemingly lost art in today’s society. As we have seen previously, God is love, that means that each of these descriptions is actually a description of God; and as we are now in Christ, we have the ability (through Christ) to love like God…because of God.

So this morning, let’s look at kindness. A life of kindness is a life filled with peace. When the person at the store is ranting and raving about how long it takes to get through the checkout line, kindness asks them to go ahead of you.

When the person is in that merge lane (which my wife and I call the “sling shot” lane) and they cut you off, kindness gives them space to move in.

You see, kindness (like all of these characteristics) puts the other person’s needs and wants before you. We may look at the situation and think, “Well, they don’t deserve…” because society has taught us that we are to be out for number one and we shouldn’t be push-overs.

But kindness erases all of that because it isn’t about us, it’s about Him.

If you really want to understand what kindness looks like, look to the cross. We deserved death (Romans 6:23), but in God’s grace, mercy, and yes…His kindness, He died on a cross so that we can have a relationship with Him. We don’t deserve to have a relationship with Him, but God said, “I will lay my life down for them.” (John 10:18)

Some may say that sacrificial kindness goes unnoticed and unappreciated and that’s not fair.

Well, dying on a cross when you did nothing wrong is the epitome of not fair.

But Christ did that for you and me.

So, since God has shown us so great a kindness, let us show others that same kindness in return…let him in your lane…

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Wait for it………….

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient…

Ah, patience. The one thing we long to have but the only way to get it…is to wait for it. Quiet the oxymoron isn’t it?

But think about this for a moment. Why place patience first? God’s Word was written the way it was for a reason. There is a reason that patience is listed first in these verses.

Maybe it’s because it’s the most important…

The word patience in the Greek is μακροθυμεω (makrothumeo) which is a compound word. Makros: meaning long and thumos: meaning temper. When you put them together you have “long-tempered.” In other words, instead of reacting in anger, wrath, and malice, patience waits…

And waits…

And waits…

And waits some more.

Why? Because of what we will learn tomorrow…and the next day, and the next day after that, and the next day after that (Lord willing).

The Bible is clear that God is love (1 John 4:8). He doesn’t use it, He doesn’t become it, He doesn’t symbolize it. He IS love. It is His very being. Everything He does is because He is love. And therefore, God is patient with us.

We pray for God’s patience with us don’t we? We make many bad choices in life and ask for Him to change the outcome or forgive our faults. We long for Him to be patient with us as we grow in maturity. We all want God to be patient with us.

So, if we look back to the description of people listed yesterday and treated them with the same love (patience) that God gives us…what would our lives look like?

Maybe it’s time we showed love to others by being patient.

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